Tomorrow is April Fools Day, and rather than post my One Word for the month and have y’all think I’m pulling your leg, I thought I’d best get it out of the way now.

What did I “Provide” in March?


  • I was a voice of organization and practicality as we (the Hospitality and Outreach Team – HOT) at church worked with the Christian Education team to figure out what we are going to do on Easter. The final decision was to have an Easter Potluck Brunch while the kids hunted eggs before Worship. (I know that doesn’t sound like much, but we are talking a four-day, email debate between 8 or more people.) I think we accommodated everyone’s wishes and all seem to be happy.


  • I provided a “calming influence” to a newbie knitter, who is a perfectionist, and always concerned that he is making a mistake. (His original teacher is away in Hawaii for the month – AWWWW).
  • I gathered and distributed a contact list for Pierce County Hunger Advocates using the attendees at the symposium the first of the month.
  • I shared Lenten blogs and inspirational posts on hunger, clean water, and prayers on the Facebook page for Pierce County Hunger and on our Adult Sunday School Facebook group.


  • I babysat for one of the pastor’s twins while she was at the hospital caring for the other twin. (It was no hardship to rock and cuddle a 2-month-old for an afternoon.)
  • I participated weekly in the fledgling Toastmasters Group we are forming here at Tobey Jones.
  • I kept up with my diet, providing detailed lists of foods eaten, and exercises performed to my counselor.

I’m not sure I remember anything else, but I do know that I feel totally busy, and fulfilled. And I think I’m keep my eyes focused outward to see what I can do for others, as well as for myself.

photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons and Sarah Wiles Facebook Page

Note to Self


When the car says “Low Key Battery” and dings after you turn it off – BELIEVE IT!

Ran to the grocery store at noon to pick up some fruit and hamburger buns. Car started just fine when I left the house, it had no problem locking the car, but when I came out 15 minutes later the FOB was deader than a doornail.

Big Al had to call a neighbor to run him down to the Safeway parking lot, so he could open the car and drive me and the groceries home.

Immediately after lunch we went to the Toyota dealer and had a new battery put in my FOB.


Sacred Dawdling

Capture(This is the transcript of a speech I gave at Toastmasters yesterday.)

One of the benefits of living here at Franke Tobey Jones is the opportunity to be informed and entertained during sessions of Senior University. Last week we heard from an Occupational Therapist about Mindfulness and Mental Health. According to studies, mindfulness can help with many of the mental risk factors that affect us as older adults.

You are probably saying to yourself “Just what is Mindfulness, anyway?”

In the simplest definition, Mindfulness is slowing down and noticing what is going on around and within you.


  • increases gray matter,
  • improves psychological functions such as attention, compassion and empathy,
  • lifts the mood,
  • decreases stress chemicals in the body,
  • strengthens the immune system,
  • and helps with a variety of medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, asthma, and type II diabetes, to name a few.

Mindfulness really can be practiced by observing your breath, your breathing rate, and your thoughts.



Let go

You may have heard it called mindfulness, meditation, centering prayer, or – as Sue Monk likes to call it – Sacred Dawdling.

My blogger friend, Caroline, says, “Dawdling as sacred? Really?

“It is sacred, because it’s an act of faith. To stop work, be unproductive, and simply look out into the day…this requires trust.”

You may remember I mentioned my quiet time that I take care to observe every morning after my shower when I sit on the side of my bed, look out the window at the trees in the copse behind the fence, and let my mind drift.

“For a time, I forget the forces and the shoulds and should nots. For a time, I just…am. I’m just me.”

After 15 or 20 minutes of just sitting there, I’m ready to get on with my day. You may be saying, “but I don’t have TIME for this.” I feel like I don’t have time, not to meditate.

Another blogger friend, Esther, has been going through a bad patch recently. She reported that her BFF had recently told her “Meditate, Esther – do meditate.” Her friend’s heart cried out GET THAT FRIEND OF YOURS SOME PEACE! She needs it.

Some days it takes what seems like FOREVER to quiet the monkey brain chatter going on in my head. I often wake up with a hymn in my head – an earworm, if you will. I don’t usually sing it out loud, but I sing it all the way through while I sit there. I will also mentally go through all the moves of the Tai Chi form we are currently working on.

Caroline says, “When I sit still like this, there are two forces battling within me.

  • One says, ‘This is important. This is what you need right now. Stillness is going to bring you farther than constant motion ever could.’
  • The other says, ‘What are you doing? Get off your butt! Be productive! Contribute to society!'”

If all else fails, I fall back on one or more visualization techniques I learned in centering prayer. I particularly like the image of floating down a river lying in a canoe with dappled shade passing over my closed eyes. If a thought comes into my head, I just toss it away. Another favorite image is of the surf, endlessly rolling in, and receding, and I breathe in stillness and breathe out worry with the surf, as the waves come in and go out.

Esther asked, “How much energy do I actually spend, worrying? How much energy do I actually spend, rushing? How much more efficient would my life be, if I were always to rest, before I rush?”

Every day we meet the critical, worried part of ourselves that judges our ‘Performance” minute by minute.

“This is an act of rebellion: to endure time, to quiet your hands, to live peace instead of war. It’s harder than it sounds. But sometimes I think this is the simplest and greatest call there is.”

With practice in the art of sacred dawdling – just 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there – we will be better equipped to understand the value of Einstein’s words,

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons



For several years I went on float trips on the Buffalo River in Northwest Arkansas. I took groups of church campers, and I know that Girl Scout troops and Boy Scout troops also canoe on the Buffalo. It’s a small river, just 150 miles in length. It was the first river to be designated a National River, and, as such, it is overseen by the National Park Service.

According to Wikipedia, “The National River designation protects natural rivers from industrial uses, impoundments and other obstructions that may change the natural character of the river or disrupt the natural habitat for the flora and fauna that live in or near the river.” I remember some of the political arguments and bickering before it was declared a National River. It is the last free-flowing (undammed) stream in Arkansas.


Yesterday, in Sunday School, we were talking about Girl Scouts, and the recently ended cookie sale, and someone began talking about old camp songs. Someone brought up “Peace I Ask of Thee, O River,” and I was immediately transported back to the Buffalo.

(If I’ve given you an earworm, you can thank me later.)

photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons


Lent 2014

I haven’t decided on any one particular Lenten discipline for this year. I’ve seen many ideas in the blogs I read on a daily basis and all of them seem good, but none has really “grabbed” me. Probably because I’m already so focused on deliberate eating with my weight-loss diet. I am, quite frankly, almost overwhelmed with the mental energy, as well as the physical energy, it is taking to avoid certain foods and to be sure to eat other foods. Not to mention the 50 minutes (minimum) of exercise required at least 5 days a week.


From time to time, I will be pointing out some of the especially convicting blog posts I run across.

Like today, at 40 Days to Food Justice (you can sign up at the site to get their devotional sent to you daily by email or RSS feed) – the post really rang true for me, because I’ve found that the most difficult part of my diet is the TIME it takes – planning menus and snacks, shopping for fresh food, and preparing the meals. Since I’ve not been allowed to “grab an Atkins Bar” if it’s time to eat, I really have to think about what, and when I’m eating. Even something as simple as remembering to get something out of the freezer in time to cook it can be a mental strain.

And, back to the exercise, this blog is suffering because the hour to hour and a half I spend at the Wellness Center is the time I used to spend writing for you, my faithful readers.

So, I suppose my Lenten discipline for this year will be to concentrate on my diet, and to be thankful I have the money to spend on healthy food, wonderful health insurance that allows me to visit a doctor and dietician weekly, and enough TIME to properly shop for and prepare the healthy food that is so necessary in this quest.

photo credit: Flickr creative commons


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

February was spent getting ready to host a gathering concerned with food insecurity here in Pierce County, Washington. It was held this morning, March 1, and I believe it was a success. At least I hope so.

One of the groups that I’ve been significantly involved in is Pierce County Hunger Advocates (if you haven’t “Liked” the page on Facebook, quit reading right now and go do it. I’ll wait).

We began as a local chapter of Bread for the World, and have since expanded to partner with Fish Food Banks of Pierce County, WA.

The steering committee, of which I am a member, has sponsored training sessions for representatives of various churches in the county, so they could conduct an Offering of Letters in their congregations. We have also visited the food bank locations and registered voters, so that those in need could advocate for themselves. Bread for the World was one of the leading voices in helping change the Farm Bill to minimize the cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). We didn’t get everything we wanted (still $8 billion in cuts over 5 years), but at least it wasn’t the original $20 billion.

Beth Elliott, the Executive Director of Fish Food Banks, was one of the speakers this morning. We learned that over 1,500,000 people visited various food banks in Pierce County, last year. Fish Food Bank, itself, served over 560.000.

We also heard from Matt Newell-Ching, the regional director for Bread for the World. We heard about this year’s focus, which is to streamline and improve international Food Aid. You can read about it on the Bread for the World web-site.

Our featured speaker was the Honorable Derek Kilmer, US House of Representatives, 6th District. He brought us up to date of the status of food aid internationally, the need for an adjustment to food aid in the United States, the pending immigration reform bill, and other matters happening in Washington, DC. He told us that the State of Washington ranks 15th in food insecurity in the country. He also spent time answering questions from the audience, and was very forthcoming about what we can and should expect from our representatives and senators.

By PROVIDING education to a group of people, and empowering them with facts to address some of the most pressing problems regarding food insecurity, I think I am doing my part.